Tennessee - Restraint and Seclusion: Prohibitions or Restrictions

Area: 
Prohibitions Or Restrictions
Policy Type: 
statute; regulation
Summary: 

State law requires districts to adopt policies limiting use of restraint and seclusion that include comprehensive student protections, including the provision of mandatory training for school personnel.

2017 Tennessee Code Annotated 49-6-4107. Use of reasonable force.

(a) A teacher, principal, school employee or school bus driver, in exercising the person's lawful authority, may use reasonable force when necessary under the circumstances to correct or restrain a student or prevent bodily harm or death to another person.

(b) Subsection (a) does not authorize use of corporal punishment by a person not permitted to administer corporal punishment under § 49-6-4103 or chapter 6, part 44 of this title.

(c) Subsection (a) does not authorize restraint or isolation of students for whom restraint or isolation is prohibited under chapter 10, part 13 of this title.


2017 Tennessee Code Annotated 49-10-1302. Purpose of part.

The purposes of this part are:

  • (1) To ensure that every student receiving special education services is free from the unreasonable, unsafe and unwarranted uses of isolation and restraint practices;
  • (2) To encourage the use of positive behavioral interventions and support methods in schools;
  • (3) To develop properly trained staff in order to promote positive behavioral supports that reduce dependence on isolation and restraint practices; and
  • (4) To ensure that teachers of students receiving special education services are properly trained to protect the student, teacher and others from physical harm, if isolation or restraint is necessary.

2017 Tennessee Code Annotated 49-10-1303. Part definitions.

For the purposes of this part, unless the context otherwise requires:

  • (1) "Behavior intervention training program" means a training program in positive behavioral supports, crisis intervention and the safe use of restraint and isolation;
  • (2) "Chemical restraint" means a medication that is prescribed to restrict a student's freedom of movement for the control of extreme violent physical behavior. Chemical restraints are medications used in addition to, or in replacement of, a student's regular drug regimen to control extreme violent physical behavior. The medications that comprise the student's regular medical regimen, including PRN medications, are not considered chemical restraints, even if their purpose is to treat ongoing behavioral symptoms;
  • (3) "Emergency situation" means that a child's behavior poses a threat to the physical safety of the student or others nearby;
  • (4) "Isolation" or "seclusion":
    • (A) Means the confinement of a student alone in a room with or without a door, or other enclosed area or structure pursuant to § 49-10-1305(g) where the student is physically prevented from leaving; and
    • (B) Does not include time-out, a behavior management procedure in which the opportunity for positive reinforcement is withheld, contingent upon the demonstration of undesired behavior; provided, that time-out may involve the voluntary separation of an individual student from others;
  • (5) "Isolation room" means any space, structure, or area pursuant to § 49-10-1305(g) used to isolate a student;
  • (6) "Mechanical restraint" means the application of a mechanical device, material or equipment attached or adjacent to the student's body, including ambulatory restraints, which the student cannot easily remove and that restrict freedom of movement or normal access to the student's body. Mechanical restraint does not include the use of restraints for medical immobilization, adaptive support, or medical protection;
  • (7) "Noxious substance" means the use of any defense spray or substance as defined by departmental rule;
  • (8) "Physical holding restraint" means the use of body contact by school personnel with a student to restrict freedom of movement or normal access to the student's body;
  • (9) "Positive behavioral supports" means a systematic approach using evidence-based practices to improve school environments, and to prevent and respond to problem behavior that:
    • (A) Is proactive and instructional, rather than reactive and punitive;
    • (B) Operates on the following three (3) levels:
      • (i) Individual;
      • (ii) Group or classroom; and
      • (iii) The whole school;
    • (C) Includes a system of continual data collection;
    • (D) Utilizes data-based decision-making;
    • (E) Applies research-validated positive behavioral interventions; and
    • (F) Improves academic and social outcomes for all students, including those with the most complex and intensive behavioral needs; and
  • (10) "School personnel" means an individual employed on a full-time or part-time basis by a public school.

2017 Tennessee Code Annotated 49-10-1306. Records of isolation and restraint -- Reports -- Promulgation of rules and regulations.

(a) Each school shall maintain all records of isolation and restraint.

(b) On a semiannual basis, using existing student-level data collection systems to the extent feasible, each school shall submit a report to the local education agency that includes:

  • (1) The number of incidents involving the use of isolation and restraint since the previous semiannual report;
  • (2) The number of instances in which the school personnel imposing physical restraint or isolation were not trained and certified;
  • (3) Any injuries, deaths, or property damage that occurred;
  • (4) The timeliness of parental notification; and
  • (5) Demographic information to determine whether disproportionate use of these interventions exists.

(c) The local education agency shall use the information obtained from records of isolation and restraint in developing its behavior intervention training program.

(d) The local education agency shall submit information to the department of education each year on the use of isolation and restraint in the school district.

(e) Annually, this information shall be reported to the state advisory council for the education of students with disabilities established pursuant to § 49-10-105. This information must also be made readily available to the public. The council shall use this information to report annually to the state board of education with recommendations to reduce the use of isolation and restraint in public education programs. The state board of education shall use these recommendations as well as data, documentation and reports to establish policy or strategies or both to reduce or eliminate the use of isolation and restraint in schools.

(f) The state board of education, in consultation with the departments of education, mental health and substance abuse services, intellectual and developmental disabilities, and children's services, shall promulgate rules and regulations concerning the use of isolation or restraint with students who receive special education services so that isolation or restraint is not used when such procedures are unsafe, unreasonable or unwarranted. The rules and regulations shall be promulgated in accordance with the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act, compiled in title 4, chapter 5.


Rules of the Tennessee Department of Education 0520-12-01-.14 CARE OF CHILDREN WITH SPECIAL NEEDS

(10) Physical Restraint shall be in accordance with T.C.A. §§ 49-10-1301 through 1305;

  • (a) A student receiving special education services, as defined by T.C.A. § 49-10-102(4), may be or isolated, only if such restraint or isolation is provided for in the individual education program, except that such student may be restrained or isolated in emergency situations, if necessary to assure the physical safety of the student or others nearby.
  • (b) If school personnel impose restraints or isolation in an emergency situation, the school shall immediately contact the school principal or the principal's designee. The principal or principal's designee shall see and evaluate the student's condition within a reasonable time after the intervention and the student's parent or guardian shall be notified, orally or by written or printed communication, the same day the isolation or restraint was used.
  • (c) If the student's individualized education program does not provide for the use of isolation or restraint for the behavior precipitating such action or if school personnel are required to use isolation or restraint longer than five (5) minutes, then an individual education program meeting shall be convened within ten (10) days following the use of such isolation or restraint. If the behavior precipitating such action also warrants a change of placement, the child will have all rights provided under applicable state and federal law.
  • (d) School personnel who must isolate or restrain a student receiving special education services, as defined by T.C.A. § 49-10-102(4), whether or not such isolation or restraint was in an emergency situation or provided for in the student's individual education program, shall report the incident to the school principal or the principal's designee who shall record the use of such isolation or restraint and the facts surrounding such use. A copy of such record shall be made available at individual education program meetings and upon the request of the student's parent or legal guardian.
      1. If the school principal or principal's designee or any person having knowledge of the isolation or restraint have reason to believe that such isolation or restraint was unreasonable, unsafe, or unwarranted, and such isolation or restraint caused injury to the student, the incident shall be reported pursuant to T.C.A. § 37-1-403.
      1. School personnel shall remain in the physical presence of any restrained student and shall continuously observe a student who is in isolation or being restrained to monitor the health and well-being of such student.
  • (e) Administering a chemical restraint to a student receiving special education services, as defined by T.C.A. § 49-10-102(4), is prohibited, provided that nothing in this subsection shall prohibit the administration of a chemical restraint when administered for therapeutic purposes under the direction of a physician and with the child's parent or guardian's consent to administer such chemical restraint.
  • (f) Administering a novious substance to a student receiving special education services, as defined by T.C.A. § 49-10-102(4), is prohibited.
  • (g) Use of any mechanical restraint on any student receiving special education services, as defined by T.C.A. § 49-10-102(4), is prohibited.
  • (h) Any form of life threatening restraint, including restraint that restricts the flow of air into a person's lungs, whether by chest compression or any other means, to a student receiving special education services, as defined by § 49-10-102(4), is prohibited.
  • (i) The use of isolation or physical holding restraint as a means of coercion, punishment, convenience or retaliation on any student receiving special education services, as defined by T.C.A. § 49-10-102(4), is prohibited.
  • (j) The use of physical holding restraint in the following circumstances is not prohibited:
      1. The brief holding by an adult in order to calm or comfort;
      1. The minimum contact necessary to physically escort a student from one area to another;
      1. Assisting a student in completing a task or response if the student does not resist, or resistance is minimal in intensity or duration; or
      1. Holding a student for a brief time in order to prevent any impulsive behavior that threatens the student's immediate safety.
      1. The program is not required to notify the student's parent or guardian pursuant to Section 10(b) above in any of the circumstances listed in this subdivision (j).
  • (k) The use of a locked door, or use of any physical structure that substantially accomplishes the intent of locking a student in a room or structure, to isolate or seclude a student, is prohibited.
  • (l) Local education agencies shall develop policies and procedures, in accordance with 0520-01-09-.23, governing:
      1. Personnel authorized to use isolation and restraint;
      1. Training requirements; and
      1. Incident reporting procedures.
  • (m) Notwithstanding any provision of this section, actions undertaken by school personnel to break up a fight or to take a weapon from a student are not prohibited; however, these acts shall be reported.
    Tennessee Secretary of State

2017 Tennessee Code Annotated 49-10-1307. Training and reporting on the use of restraint and isolation.

If a private school or agency contracts with an LEA to provide services for students with disabilities, then such private school or agency shall, in the contract for services, certify that the staff of the facility or program has received training in the appropriate use of restraint and isolation. Further, the contracting agency shall report to a designated LEA representative each instance of the use of restraint and isolation to accomplish the parental notification provided in this part.


Rules of the Tennessee Department of Education 0520-01-09-.23 ISOLATION AND RESTRAINT FOR STUDENTS RECEIVING SPECIAL EDUCATION SERVICES.

(1) Definitions:

  • (a) "Extended isolation" means isolation which lasts longer than one (1) minute per year of the student's age or isolation which lasts longer than the time provided in the child's individualized education program (IEP).
  • (b) "Extended restraint" means a physical holding restraint lasting longer than five (5) minutes or a physical holding a restraint which lasts longer than the time provided in the child's IEP.
  • (c) "Noxious substance" means a substance released in proximity to the student's face or sensitive area of the body for the purpose of limiting a student's freedom of movement or action, including but not limited to Mace and other defense sprays.

(2) Local education agencies are authorized to develop and implement training programs that include:

  • (a) Use of positive behavioral interventions and supports;
  • (b) Nonviolent crisis prevention and de-escalation;
  • (c) Safe administration of isolation and restraint; and
  • (d) Documentation and reporting requirements.

(3) Local education agencies are authorized to determine an appropriate level of training commensurate with the job descriptions and responsibilities of school personnel.

(4) Local education agencies shall develop policies and procedures governing:

  • (a) Personnel authorized to use isolation and restraint;
  • (b) Training requirements; and
  • (c) Incident reporting procedures.

(5) Only the principal, or the principal's designee, may authorize the use of isolation or restraint in the case of emergency or by IEP signature.

(6) When the use of restraint or isolation is proposed at an IEP meeting, parents/guardians shall be advised of the provisions of T.C.A. § 49-10-1301, et seq., this rule and the IDEA procedural safeguards.

(7) An IEP meeting convened pursuant to T.C.A. § 49-10-1304 may be conducted on at least twenty-four (24) hours' notice to the parents/guardian/surrogate/parent.

(8) State agencies providing educational services within a residential therapeutic setting to children in their legal and physical custody shall develop and adhere to isolation and restraint policies in such educational settings which conform to the TDMHDD (Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities) state standards as applicable and at least one (1) of the following national standards: ACA (American Correctional Association), COA (Council on Accreditation), CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services), JCAHO (Joint Commission for Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations), CARF (Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities), as they apply in the educational environment. Development of, and adherence to, such policies shall be overseen by a licensed qualified physician or licensed doctoral level psychologist.

(9) Reports.
School personnel who must isolate or restrain a student shall report the incident to the school principal or the principal's designee. The Department of Education shall develop a report form, which shall be used by school personnel when reporting isolation or restraint to the school principal or the principal’s designee.
Tennessee Secretary of State


2017 Tennessee Code Annotated 49-10-1305. Restrictions on administration of, or use of, isolation or restraint.

(a) Administering a chemical restraint to a student receiving special education services, as defined by § 49-10-102, is prohibited; provided, that nothing in this subsection (a) shall prohibit the administration of a chemical restraint when administered for therapeutic purposes under the direction of a physician and with the child's parent or guardian's consent to administer such chemical restraint.

(b) Administering a noxious substance to a student receiving special education services, as defined by § 49-10-102, is prohibited.

(c) The use of any mechanical restraint on any student receiving special education services, as defined by § 49-10-102, is prohibited.

(d) Any form of life threatening restraint, including restraint that restricts the flow of air into a person's lungs, whether by chest compression or any other means, to a student receiving special education services, as defined by § 49-10-102, is prohibited.

(e)

  • (1) The use of isolation or physical holding restraint as a means of coercion, punishment, convenience or retaliation on any student receiving special education services, as defined by § 49-10-102, is prohibited.
  • (2) Removing or disabling any equipment or device that a student requires, including, but not limited to, a power wheelchair, brace, augmentative communication device, or walker, as a means of coercion, punishment, convenience, or retaliation on any student receiving special education services, as defined by § 49-10-102, is prohibited.
  • (3) (A) The use of physical holding restraint in the following circumstances is not prohibited:
    • (i) The brief holding by an adult in order to calm or comfort;
    • (ii) The minimum contact necessary to physically escort a student from one area to another;
    • (iii) Assisting a student in completing a task or response if the student does not resist, or resistance is minimal in intensity or duration; or
    • (iv) Holding a student for a brief time in order to prevent any impulsive behavior that threatens the student's immediate safety.
      • (B) The school is not required to notify the student's parent or guardian pursuant to § 49-10-1304 in any of the circumstances listed in subdivision (e)(3)(A).

(f) The use of a locked door, or any physical structure, mechanism, or device that substantially accomplishes the function of locking a student in a room, structure, or area, is prohibited.

(g) Any space used as an isolation room shall be:

  • (1) Unlocked and incapable of being locked;
  • (2) Free of any condition that could be a danger to the student;
  • (3) Well ventilated and temperature controlled;
  • (4) Sufficiently lighted for the comfort and well-being of the student;
  • (5) Where school personnel are in continuous direct visual contact with the student at all times;
  • (6) At least forty square feet (40 sq. ft.); and
  • (7) In compliance with all applicable state and local fire, health, and safety codes.

(h) Notwithstanding this section, actions undertaken by school personnel to break up a fight or to take a weapon from a student are not prohibited; however, these acts shall be reported.


2017 Tennessee Code Annotated 49-10-1304. Isolation or restraint of student -- Reports and record.

  • (a) A student receiving special education services, as defined by § 49-10-102, may be restrained or isolated only in emergency situations.
  • (b) Individualized education programs that provide for the use of restraint or isolation in emergency situations shall also contain a data driven functional behavior assessment and a plan for modification of the behavior developed and implemented by a qualified team of professionals.
  • (c) In the event that restraint or isolation is imposed on a student, it shall be imposed by:
    • (1) School personnel who have been certified for completing a behavior intervention training program; or
    • (2) Other school personnel when trained personnel are not immediately available.
  • (d)
    • (1) If school personnel impose restraints or isolation in an emergency situation, the school shall immediately contact appropriate school personnel who are designated under department rules to authorize the isolation or restraint. Such school personnel authorized by department rules shall see and evaluate the student's condition within a reasonable time after the intervention and the student's parent or guardian shall be notified, orally or by written or printed communication, the same day the isolation or restraint was used. School personnel shall be held harmless for failure to notify if reasonable effort has been made to notify the student's parent or guardian in compliance with this subdivision (d)(1).
    • (2) If the student's individualized education program does not provide for the use of isolation or restraint for the behavior precipitating such action or if school personnel are required to use isolation or restraint over an extended period of time as determined by department rules, then an individual education program meeting shall be convened within ten (10) days following the use of the isolation or restraint. If the behavior precipitating such action also warrants a change of placement, the child will have all rights provided under applicable state and federal law.
    • (3)
      • (A) School personnel may report a suspected crime by calling a law enforcement official;
      • (B) School personnel may file a juvenile petition against a student receiving special education, only after conducting a manifestation determination that results in a determination that the behavior that resulted in the act requiring disciplinary action was not caused by the student's disability; or
      • (C) A school resource officer (SRO), as defined by § 49-6-4202, may, upon witnessing an offense, take the student into custody.
  • (e)
    • (1) School personnel who must isolate or restrain a student receiving special education services, as defined by § 49-10-102, shall report the incident to the school principal or the principal's designee who shall record the use of the isolation or restraint and the facts surrounding such use. The state board of education shall promulgate rules that mandate a standard reporting format to be used by LEAs.
    • (2) Whenever possible, an additional school staff member should serve as an observer to any act of physical restraint performed on a student to monitor the health and safety of all involved. School personnel shall maintain a continuous direct line of sight to a student who is in isolation to monitor the health and well-being of the student.
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